Massachusetts Competition 2


Implementation Grant Winner

Working Cities Lowell was awarded a three-year, $475,000 grant to work with residents and business owners to improve the city’s Acre neighborhood. The goal of the Working Cities Lowell team is to expand civic and economic inclusion for Acre residents. It has worked to connect residents to resources for small business and economic development, workforce development, and inclusive community engagement.

Problem Problem

The Acre is historically one of the city's most ethnically diverse neighborhoods and has served as an entry point for immigrants and refugees for more than a century. The Acre has the city’s largest concentration of subsidized housing units, and it is home to many families living in poverty. Because the language, cultural, and economic barriers in the Acre reflect the conditions low-income families face citywide, the team views the Acre as a place where it can both impact and learn about promoting economic inclusion throughout Lowell.

Strategy Strategy

Working Cities Lowell is not a direct service provider. It is a coalition that exists to catalyze strategies and take actions that boost economic opportunity and inclusion in Lowell. It’s also a watchdog, holding organizations and institutions accountable to their commitments to inclusion and economic opportunity. The team’s strategies have included: increasing residents’ awareness of and access to services, resources, and opportunities; supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs; promoting workforce development; cultivating resident leaders within the Acre; and cultivating inclusive community engagement – with an emphasis on city government. As the team moves into its fourth year, it will focus on citywide equity and inclusion and take its efforts and lessons beyond the Acre for greater impact.

Vision Vision

Working Cities Lowell envisions a culturally diverse and economically thriving community known for economic opportunity and greater resident engagement in civic life. It is dedicated to advancing collective solutions that increase social and economic mobility for Lowell’s lower-income residents and communities of color.

The Team The Team

  • City of Lowell
  • Coalition for a Better Acre, Inc.
  • Northern Middlesex Council of Governments
  • Lowell Community Health Center
  • MassHire Career Center of Lowell
  • Lowell Housing Authority
  • Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell, Inc.
  • Greater Lowell Community Foundation
  • Community Teamwork, Inc.
  • Middlesex Community College
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union

The Working Cities Challenge has allowed Lowell to create stronger relationships between organizations and shift the conversation for inclusion and racial equity around economic and civic opportunities. We’re coming together to create better opportunities for residents to be more involved in decision-making processes at organization- and city-levels.

Shaun McCarthy, Director, Working Cities Lowell Initiative